We drove away at sunset, observing Lima´s suburb, mostly slums built on sand hills. What a strange city, caught between the desert and the sea. We followed the Panamericana Sur, along the Pacific Ocean, passing through Pisco and Nazca, a vast coastal desert, arid lowlands and sand dunes.
We enjoyed Lima these last few days. We walked around the historical center and went to Miraflores, the newer (and posher) suburb. The beaches are not that nice (nothing compared to Costa Rica) but it was fun. Southern hemisphere… here we are!
Observing people in Central America is really interesting. First of all, there is a true melting pot of cultures: Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, indigenous people such as the Kuna in Panamá…
We went to Panamá (in Panamá City, David and Boquete) and then to Costa Rica (in Quepos, Playa Coco, Playa Tamarindo, Liberia, Monteverde and San Jose). We tried to cross to Nicaragua but could not make it.
There is no way we are coming back to Canada now. So we bought a plane ticket to… Perú. We will arrive in Lima, and travel in South America for quite a while.
We were in Monteverde, in the Costa Rican mountains, where this is a popular activity. Basically, we were attached to a steel cable with a harness, attached itself to a removable trolley. Plus the cute helmet, of course. We were taken deep into the rainforest and left on the first platform, on top of a tree. There, we were taught to use thick leather glove (to brake) and… that was it!
These are some of the animals we met in Costa Rica. I have not included pictures of mosquitoes… damn blood suckers!
But busing around in Central America is not that straightforward. First of all, we have to agree on the definition of a bus. If it has no windows and no doors, it is still a bus? What if it is painted in flamboyant colors, like bright red and yellow, and has words of wisdom such as “no pain, no gain“, or “dio bendigo mi alma” written on the windows? And if it takes 5 hours to drive 20 kilometers? Is it still a bus?
Not surprisingly, the beach in Costa Rica offers some great sunsets….
We are now enjoying the beaches on Costa Rica´s Pacific Coast.
On Saturday, we got up at 6am to take a frontera bus to Peñas Blancas, the Costa Rica – Nicaragua border town. We were there in 2002 and had witnessed a man being crushed to death between two trucks, so we knew how chaotic it could get. But nothing prepared us for what we experienced.
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, is a dream land of beaches and rainforest. It is not too easily accessible and you can still find empty beaches, wild animals (such as monkeys, racoons, birds, lizards…) and a paradise of white sand and coconut trees.
It was crazy. The road was bumpy and extremely narrow, we were surrounded by the rain forest. We passed other trucks and there were barely enough room for both the bus and them, one of us had to stop each time and we were inches apart.
On Tuesday morning, we boarded the bus, barely awake. It took us just an hour to get to the border. There, we had to take our bags (stored underneath the bus) and go to a small round room, with tables. We put our backpacks on the tables and waited for what was coming up next. Sure thing, a custom officer arrived 30 minutes later and searched us.
The streets are just a mess of cars stopping, cars trying to turn, to reverse, to park, all at the same time and at full speed. “Diablos Rojos” (city buses), cars, motocycles, trucks… just ram into each other constantly and never ever give way.
We left Panamá city for David, and now we are in Boquete, about 1 hour 1/2 from David.
Panamá is a strange city, somewhat a bit schizophrenic. Half of it is old, half of it is new. Anything in between is either demolished or in construction.
It’s a different world here. Palm trees and coconuts, food stalls in the streets, people hanging out chatting at 3:00am, military and policía with machine guns at every corner, tinted windows and bullet proof doors…
I had planned to write a great post about packing, but I was busy doing just that. Packing. Oh well. I bet half of you weren’t that interested in knowing how many underwear I was taking anyway (the answer is obviously seven).
Snacks, sodas, take-outs, pastries, desserts, appetizers, food stalls, fast food… you would never go hungry in North America provided you have some spare change in your pocket.
Between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm, Ottawa changes. People are rushing to go back home, either driving either taking the bus, some go out for a quiet drink while office buildings empty out. A slow transition which takes place every night.
I’m looking forward to packing my bag and go. I haven’t practice the art of packing in a while though, and trust me, when you go traveling for a few months… you need to pack right.
Followers speak a weird language: home run, end zone, touchdown, powerplay, and mostly “scooooooore”. Their Gods? MLB (Major League Baseball), NFL (National Football League), NBA (National Baseball Association) and NHL (National Hockey League).
This is my last week of work at school, and I’m facing what is perhaps my most tricky mission so far.
I arrived Monday morning wondering how to deal with the whole situation. How much French could I teach in three days, and how willing would the employees be to learn? How would they handled the fact that they were losing their jobs?